Debra’s warm, intimate vocals tell story through song. Her material includes jazz standards and her own original material.
Deb’s journey with jazz vocals began in 1998 when she took a jazz vocal workshop with Vivianne Cardinal in Calgary. In 2000 and 2001, she studied vocal jazz at the Banff Centre for the Fine Arts with vocalists Sheila Jordan and Jay Clayton. She continued her studies with Cheryl Fisher in Calgary and Dee Daniels in Vancouver. She has also studied with Nancy King and Roberta Gamberini at the Centrum jazz workshop in Port Townsend, Washington. In 2012, she participated in Bobby McFerrin’s Circle Song workshop at the Omega Centre in upstate New York.
She has performed at the Calgary Jazz Festival “Party in the Plaza” and the Sylvan Lake “Jazz at the Lake” Festival along with the Keith Smith Trio. In Calgary, she has been featured at the Cliff Bungalow Jazz Series and has headlined at the BeatNiq Jazz and Social Club. She also performed regularly at the PiqNiq Café, Niko’s and the Bears Den.
Debra performed at the 2006 Giant Steppes Jazz Festival in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia with the Northern Lights Quartet (NLQ) of Calgary. In 2008, NLQ returned to Mongolia for the Giant Steppes Festival to initiate a collaborative project with the traditional Mongolian ensemble, Altai Khangai, followed by performances in Beijing, China at the prestigious Peking University as part of the Time Arts Jazz Series. In August, 2009, she toured Canada with the Canadian-Mongolian jazz fusion project Northern Lights – Altai Khangai, performing in Calgary, Red Deer, High River, Victoria, Vancouver, Saskatoon and Ottawa. The project was captured on the CD Northern Lights – Altai Khangai.
She is also a member of the informal circle of singers, “Calgary Women in Jazz”. On March 8th each year, they present an International Women’s Day concert to celebrate the strength and creative force of women. Proceeds of the concerts support women and girls programs in Calgary. The group also performs a Christmas benefit concert, “Six Babes a Singin’ ”. Their summer concert, “Favourite Females of Jazz” has each member of the group feature a favourite jazz vocalist through song and stories.
In 2011, Deb and Keith Smith released their duo CD, Heart Wide Open, featuring intimate interpretations of jazz standards and several of Deb’s original songs.